Sunday, August 28, 2011

Common Man....Anna Hazare....a Moral Victory, finally !!!

It took 13 days of fasting, losing almost 8kgs of weight, risking the very life of one of the cleanest man in our country, getting the Common Man on streets across cross sections of the society, staging rallies, screaming protests, courting arrests, joining on hunger strike, almost bringing the Country to a standstill…to get the two Houses in Parliament into an unanimous agreement for a strong & independent Lokpal Bill. 
Finally it was victory for Team Anna & the Common Man, at least moral & symbolic, as the Govt bowed to this stupendous movement.
Over this dramatic movement that unfolded, we all witnessed political mayhem through all these days, with the Govt started by giving a damn to Anna’s movement…..getting him arrested & removed to Tihar Jail, as their leaders kept hurling allegations, accusations & what not against Anna & his team, while the Opposition, looked at gaining political mileage. For them all, it was just a political be contested & won. The various leaders & the party spokesperson on media channels were using politically correct statements, blaming each other, raising the temperature of the sentiments, & claiming clean chit......or shall I say, plain shit!!!! Amazing, how Congress, kept bringing in fresh speakers one after the other, all contorting & convoluting, but essentially diverting the main topic of discussions......from foot in the mouth Manish Tewari, to slippery Kapil Sibal, to ever avoiding eyes of Manmohan Singh, to a clueless & just in - just out Rahul Gandhi, to P Chidambaram, & some more, at times really became distasteful. In fact a group of Baboons is called Congress ...(pls refer to any English dictionary) !!.... now, isnt that symbolic enough?????
However, much to the chagrin of the Govt, as it tried all its tricks to derail the movement, the Common Man had united across the length & breadth of the Country in uprising on the issue of Corruption….this time around there was no stopping !!! It was a completely non violent & apolitical drive ending in the greatest rebuttal of the civil society to the politicians of India.
It was for the first time since independence, that the Voice of the Common Man had won over the representatives in the Parliament….it was indeed history in the making… something, I am sure, we all can be proud of, while, our coming generations would read about it & take inspirations from.

While celebrations across India breaks out as Anna ends his fast, we all need to be cautious & alert. The movement is not over….in fact it has just about begun. Going by our experience of how our politicians behave as turncoats, how this Govt has been known for changing colors like a chameleon, we need to ensure that the pressure is kept through the next few months to ensure the legal application & implementation of the Lokpal Bill.

While I have taken names of some deceitful people, I also need to highlight the courageous & unrelenting efforts of honest people like Arvind Kejriwal, Aruna Roy, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi etc. Sushma Swaraj was a good game changer along with Arun Jaitley & they were able to create substantial pressures on the Govt to take action. From the Govt's side Pranab Mukherjee managed to steal the show by bringing the deadlock to an amicable end. It was heartening to see the likes of Aamir Khan, Raju Hirani, Sonu Nigam come to the stage at Ramlila Grounds & express their solidarity to Anna and also request him to end his fast.......

Jai Hind......Vande Mataram

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Team India battered, bruised & broken.....Complete Whitewash !!!!

21st July to 22nd August 2011… month of mayhem for Team India in cricket, as England perfectly utilized home conditions to bludgeon India into submission with a 4-0 whitewash, in a test series which was touted to be the battle of the titans.
The last innings of the series, with India battling to draw the match yesterday, was a perfect example of how India collapsed against a determined & disciplined English attack throughtout the series.
Resuming the day at 129 for 3 with mainstay Dravid already back in the pavillion, and needing another 167 runs to avoid innings defeat, the visitors were looking forward to Sachin for batting out the entire day. The 1st session boosted this confidence, as nighwatchman Amit Mishra put up an ideal foil along with Sachin to defy the English attack, while scoring valuable runs. This was the first & the only session in the entire series, when India had batted without losing a wicket. Just when Indians were beginning to build hope, the perennial collapse was triggered with Mishra’s dismissal. The 144 run stand between the two went waste, as India lost 7 wickets for just 21 runs within the next 15 overs. The whitewash was complete, as India lost by an innings & 8 runs. This was India's worst performance since 1959....

The table below distinctively shows the glaring difference in performance between the two teams :

Matches won
Innings batted
Teams dismissed
Aggregate runs
Wickets lost
Batting average
Highest total
Lowest total
Most runs
533 (KP Pietersen)
461 (R Dravid)
Highest individual score
294 (AN Cook)
146* (R Dravid)
3 ( all by Dravid)
Most wickets
25 (SCJ Broad)
15 (Praveen Kumar)
Century stands

India came to England from West Indies, having won the test series there with a 2nd / 3rd string test side, which according to me built in huge arrogance & overconfidence in the team. As a no 1 test team in the world, under Dhoni’s captaincy, they felt they could handle any situation. There was no planning, no preparation & no strategy on how to handle English conditions. Everyone was talking of Sachin’s 100 century at Lords, & the focus had shifted from strategy to personal milestones. Under the new coaching of Duncan Fletcher & the golden run of Dhoni’s captaincy, progressing from the recent World Cup win in April, India felt secure…..a false sense of security !!!
On the other hand, England had done their homework…..they had planned meticulously. The main players had skipped the IPL to stay fresh & unexposed. They ensured that the pitches suited their bowlers, the batsmen had practiced hard in the county matches & nets & the fielding looked well oiled. Each & every player knew his role & committed wholeheartedly. The reserve bench too was ready to step in. Unlike India, the team was not looking at any individual brilliance or records, but sheer efforts on the field. The English team, throughout the series, batted very very deep, with even tailenders contributing substantially, not allowing Indian bowlers to dominate, but for brief patches. From openers Strauss & Cook to Pieterson, Bell, Morgan, Trott, Prior in the middle order, to Broad, Bresnan, Swann, Anderson bringing up the tail….there was just no respite for the Indian bowlers. Its no wonder that they lost only 47 wickets in the entire series batting six times, while piling up 2809 runs. When they came to bowl, they were disciplined & accurate, giving very little away to the Indian batsmen, scalping 80 wickets, getting the much touted & heavily advertised Indian batting line up all out every single innings, giving away only 2044 runs. Indian innings could not cross 300 runs even a single time. The heavyweights had fallen heavily…..The only Indian who performed against all odds was Rahul Dravid, the silent Wall for Team India over the years. Even at the twilight of his career, Rahul held whatever little semblance of fight India could muster, batting away tirelessly, notching up three superb centuries, all for a losing cause. He silently went on to become the 2nd highest run scorer in tests after Sachin.
India’s cup of woes continued to overflow, as key players kept getting injured at crucial stages of the series, rendering the team toothless. Zaheer, Yuvraj, Bhajji, Gambhir, Praveen Kumar, Sehwag, Ishant, all fell to injuries, as Dhoni, Sachin continued with niggles. Clearly the team management, including the selectors, had not put a proper plan in place. The replacements that were rushed in were woefully out of shape, leave alone form & the result was rubbing further salt to the wound !!! Dhoni’s golden run had stuttered for the first time & real bad……..

While Kevin Pieterson topped the batting charts for England with 533 runs, followed by Ian Bell with 504 runs, Dravid chipped in with 461 runs, followed by Sachin with 273 runs.... Stuart Broad was the Man of the Series picking up 25 wickets & scoring 182 runs, in a wonderful display of alround performance. This is the same bowler, who had been hit for six successive overboundaries by Yuvraj Singh in the T20 World Cup, not very long ago. Shows, what determination & discipline could bring about, as results.
The English team, with this stupendous performance, has not only toppled India to become the new No 1 Test Team, but also pushed India to No 3 slot.......a performance, which England Captain Andrew Strauss along with his team would cherish throughout their lifetime.
Pushed to a corner, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has an uphill task ahead of him. This is his first test series defeat ever as a Captain, & the ignominy of a 4-0 whitewash would certainly rankle him for long. It was not the margin of defeat, but the manner in which the team capitulated, which was shameful & unpardonable.
He has to find a way to resurrect team India for the ODIs ahead & salvage some pride !!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 - Lets Evaluate ........

             Govt’s Draft Lokpal Bill

Jan Lokpal Bill (Anna Hazare supported)

Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.

Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a
role limited to forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority".

Lokpal will have the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.

Lokpal will have no police powers and no
ability to register an FIR or proceed with criminal

Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.

The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected.

Lokpal and the anti corruption wing of the CBI will be one independent body.

Punishment for corruption will be a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of up to 7 years.

Punishments will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment.

PM cannot be investigated by Lokpal

PM can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.

Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill"

Judiciary can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench

MPs can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated

MPs can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench

Lower Bureaucracy - Only Group A officers will be covered

All public servants would be included

The CBI will remain a separate agency

The CBI will be merged into the Lokpal

Removal of Lokpal Members & Chair - Any
"aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI(Chief Justice of India).

Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President

Removal of Lokpal Staff & Officers - Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior

Complaints against Lokpal staff will be
handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.

Lokayukta - All state anti-corruption
agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.

Lokakyukta and other local/state
anti-corruption agency would remain in place

Protection to Whistleblowers - No protection granted to whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are to be protected by law

Punishment for Corruption - Lokpal can only
refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law.

Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption

Investigatory Powers - Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers.

Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders

False, frivolous & vexation Complaints - Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs 25,000 to 2 lakh

Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous
complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh

Scope - Only high-level corruption can be investigated

All charges of corruption can be investigated

The Jan Lokpal Bill aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers. If made into into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body similar to the Election Commission of India called the Lokpal (Sanskrit: protector of the people). It would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval.
The Lokpal Bill was first introduce in Parliament by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 & passed by Lok Sabha in 1969, but subsequently rejected in the Rajya Sabha. Since then, various versions of the bill has been introduced to the Parliament over the last four decades, but none has been passed.

Renewed calls for the bill arose over resentment of the major differences between the draft 2010 Lokpal Bill prepared by the government and that prepared by the members of the associated activists movement — N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court of India; Lokayukta of Karnataka; Shanti Bhushan; Arvind Kejriwal; Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court; and members of the India Against Corruption movement. The bill's supporters consider existing laws too weak, full of contradictions and insufficiently empowered to combat corruption. On the other hand, critics of the Jan Lokpal Bill argue that the bill attempts to supercede existing constitutional bodies and attempts to create a super-institution with sweeping powers, which can be dangerous for the future of democracy.

Some important features of the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill(Anna Hazare supported) are :

1. To establish a central government anti-corruption institution called Lokpal, supported by Lokayukta at the state level.
2. As in the case of the Supreme Court and Cabinet Secretariat, the Lokpal will be supervised by the Cabinet Secretary and the Election Commission. As a result, it will be completely independent of the government and free from ministerial influence in its investigations.
3. Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.
4. A selection committee will invite shortlisted candidates for interviews, videorecordings of which will thereafter be made public.
5. Every month on its website, the Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed. It will also publish lists of all cases received by the Lokayukta during the previous month, cases dealt with and those which are pending.
6. Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. Any resulting trials should be concluded in the following year, giving a total maximum process time of two years.
7. Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.
8. Government officework required by a citizen that is not completed within a prescribed time period will result in Lokpal imposing financial penalties on those responsible, which will then be given as compensation to the complainant.
9. Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within a month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.
10. The existing anti-corruption agencies (CVC, departmental vigilance and the anti-corruption branch of the CBI) will be merged into Lokpal which will have complete power and authority to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
11. Whistleblowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases will also be provided with protection by it.

Drafting Committee :
The drafting committee was officially formed on 8 April 2011. It consisted of the following ten members, including five from the government and five drawn from the civil society. The committee failed to agree on the terms of a compromise bill & the govt introduced its own bill in the parliament in August 2011.
If you notice below, there are five members representing the Govt, but no representations from Opposition. Also, surprisingly, there are no names like Kiran Bedi( retired IPS & Highest ranking Indian Woman), Dr APJ Abdul Kalam(former President of India), TN Seshan ( ex Chief Election Commissioner) Narayan Murthy(Infosys), etc, who have demonstrated adequate capability to be fair & just while handling their office.


                             Qualification & Status


Finance Minister, Co -Chairman

Shanti Bhushan

Former Minister of Law & Justice, Co -

P. Chidambaram

Minister of Home Affairs

Veerappan Moily

Minister of Corporate Affairs

Kapil Sibal

Minister of Communication & Information

Salman Khurshid

Minister of Law

Anna Hazare

Social Activist

Prashant Bhushan

Lawyer & Social Activist

N. Santosh Hegde

Former Lokayukta

Arvind Kejriwal

RTI Activist ( Right to Information)

Interestingly, the Lokpal Bill, 2011 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 4 August. It was referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Member, Rajya Sabha on 8 August for examination and report within three months. The Standing Committee consists of MPs belonging to 22 political parties, including people like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Amar Singh, Manish Tewari, Ram Vilas Paswan…..people, who we all know & believe are seeped to the bones in corruption !!!! If these people are going to decide on the future & sanctity of the Lokpal Bill, then there is a huge credibility issue. If these are the people who are supposed to give us a Corruption free Country, then even God cannot save us !!!!!!

In all fairness, the Jan Lokpal Bill, at least on paper, shows immense promise & capability to eradicate Corruption, which has eaten into the deepest recesses of our Country & our Society. It deserves a chance to establish its worth. The Bill speaks of making every individual accountable in the Country, & letting no one be above Law….it has strong measures to handle corruption & has well defined processes to implement the same. As opposed to this, the Govt draft seems to be weak & inept & wishy washy… expected from this Govt which has failed in its duty to curb Corruption, leave alone eradicate the menace. The expose on the various scams over the last couple of years only strengthens the belief & need for a strong anti Corruption Bill.
Someone like Anna Hazare is staking his life for the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill, supported by honest activists like Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Spiritual Leaders like Sri Sri RaviShankar, Baba Ramdev & others. The bill has enough ammunition for a start….a fresh start towards building back the Golden days of India. The unprecedented movement across the country by all cross sections of the society over the past few days, only establishes the sanctity of this Bill. Let us continue our support for Anna Hazare.

Jai Hind….

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Uprising of Common Man......

Its more than 36 hours since Anna Hazare has been taken in custody & moved to Tihar Jail as the protests moved beyond the second day …..the country has come together in an unprecedented support for him, pushing the inept Central Govt already in disarray, on the back foot.

Despite several opportunities to reach a consensus with Anna Hazare and other sections of civil society for the framing of an effective Lokpal Bill, the Central Govt attempted to push through a farce of a Bill. That it misread the national public mood is obvious. People have taken to streets across the country… it school children, college goers, office goers, professionals, housewives, industrialists, celebrities, common man, et all…..there have been nonstop peaceful demonstrations, lighting candles, switching off all lights at home/ office from 8.00pm to 9.00pm as a symbolic protest against corruption, fasting… has been an unrelenting movement, something which the Centre had not envisaged. Being at Azad Maidan Mumbai, through the evening going into late night for the second day in a row, I witnessed what a country wide stir can achieve. The anti-corruption movement initiated by Anna today is gaining momentum with hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who are fed up with a system they believe is opaque, corrupt, and driven by greed. Here is a common man who wants to exercise his basic fundamental rights to protest against the rampant corruption that exists in the Govt machinery.

In sheer display of arrogance, the Govt orders the detention of Anna Hazare, even before he began his fast in support of stronger anti-corruption provisions in the Lokpal Bill, which lead to the arrest of a large number of peaceful protesters across the country, mainly in Delhi & Mumbai. No representative government in a democracy can deny citizens their fundamental right to dissent and peaceful protest. Instead of honestly dealing with the issues raised by successive corruption scandals, the UPA government chose to cover up, & when that became unsustainable, it resorted to slurs and dirty tricks, and incrementally raised the level of repression to smother voices demanding accountability and corrective institutional measures.

It was shocking to see our PM shivering like a decaying leaf in the Lok Sabha….still trying to with hold their stand against Anna. It was a mockery to see that even in this moment of crisis, our worthy PM, has to refer to a note sheet to deliver his speech….he cant even speak impromptu….trying as ever to make a “politically correct statement”…..with his so called lawyers, or shall we say liars in support, trying to justify, all their actions. Imagine the headlines “Foreign hand behind Anna’s stir, doubts Congress”….. how ludicrous & bizarre could this get !!! Every action of the UPA Govt over the recent past suggests that they have completely lost it…. The longer they stay in power, the farther our Country will go into the dark ages.

We need to continue our peaceful agitation, till this stupid, insipid, incapable Govt relents & allows a dialogue to begin for a justifiable end to this matter. It’s a dream that our freedom fighters cherished….a dream for which they lay their lives & everything they had…..a dream so simple and true. An India without corruption, a nation to be proud of, a nation called the biggest democracy on earth. A prosperous and stable India with opportunities for all Indians across all sections of the society. A nation that offers its citizens a bright future with chances for the poorest of the poor to lead a life in dignity, with jobs and education for all children. Primary healthcare for all, a functional infrastructure, no illiteracy, a working social welfare system for the needy and poor.

In fact, a strong Lokpal Bill with a rotating jury / committee involving equal representation from every level / strata of the society to watch over every department in the Govt machinery, will put the responsibility and power back with the people. They will get a sense of belonging, while transparency will build a sense of ownership. With active participation, people will understand what efforts go towards every decision and the rationale behind it. It’s a paradigm shift, which arguably will usher more cohesion with less protests, less apathy to public property and more participation in debate for solving problems. In fact it will take off a lot of burden from the government rather than increasing it. It’s a question of belief & faith, once corruption has been eradicated.

Vande Mataram….